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The History of Christmas Trees (Part 4)

_Elsa_ Posts: 36,136 Sweet Legend
edited December 2021 in Discussions

Tinsel and The Legend of the Christmas Spider

Tinsel was first created in Nuremberg, Germany in the 1878 when thin strips of silver foil were sold as 'Icicles'. In 1880 'angel hair, made from spun glass was sold. The first 'tinsel' garlands were sold in the 1890s from silver plated copper wire. But when plastic/man made tinsel was invented, it became very popular as it was much cheaper than metal tinsel and also lighter to go on the tree!

There are also folk stories about how tinsel was created - by The Christmas Spider!

These tales seem to have started in Eastern Germany, Poland or Ukraine but are also told in parts of Finland and Scandinavia. The stories are now also popular in other countries such as the USA; although I live in the UK and most people in my country have never heard of the story/legend!

All the versions of the story involve a poor family who can't afford to decorate a Tree for Christmas (in some versions the tree grew from a pine cone in their house, in others the family have bought a tree into the house). When the children go to sleep on Christmas Eve a spider covers the tree in cobwebs. Then on Christmas morning the cobwebs are magically turned into silver and gold strands which decorate the tree!

Some versions of the story say that it's the light of the sun which changed the cobwebs into silver and gold but other versions say it's St Nicholas / Santa Claus / Father Christmas / das Christkind which made the magic happen.

In parts of Germany, Poland, and Ukraine it's meant to be good luck to find a spider or a spider's web on your Christmas Tree. Spider's web Christmas Tree decorations are also popular in Ukraine. They're called 'pavuchky' (which means 'little spider') and the decorations are normally made of paper and silver wire. You might even put an artificial spider's web on your tree! (Source)

To be continued ................

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4    Part 5


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